Thursday, October 8, 2009



By Standard Team

The Government and religious leaders have dismissed claims by the BBC that rival ethnic groups are rearming in readiness for chaos in 2012.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti said there is no evidence to back the claims.

"I am not aware of that and so far there is no evidence. But we appeal to anyone with such information to share it with us," he said.

Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode said the BBC Focus on Africa programme could undermine national healing. Leaders in Rift Valley termed the report alarmist and aimed at creating fear among communities.

A BBC investigation reportedly discovered arms dealers are selling sophisticated weaponry in Rift Valley Province.

It is feared villagers in Rift Valley are moving from traditional weapons such as spears to machine guns, the BBC report said.

The Rift Valley Provincial Security Committee refuted the claims. PC Osman Warfa said they have enough machinery to detect such a move.

"The intelligence team we have on the ground has been working round the clock and such moves would have been detected long ago," said Mr Warfa. He rubbished the report, saying it was meant to cause panic.

Mr Ojode, who was mentioned in the story as having confirmed the claim, said he was misquoted.

"I was quoted out of context because the whole story is not factual," said Ojode who was with Prof Saitoti.

Instead, they said the Government would launch a major mop-up of firearms.

"We are giving amnesty to those who will surrender the guns before the Government clamps down on them. We know those who own guns and we are in final stage of forcible disarmament," added Ojode.

Mop-up drive

He added: "Those with the illegal arms are asked to surrender them to the authorities before the mop-up begins."

The minister, however, clarified the guns are in the hands of bandits, cattle rustlers and highway robbers.

The BBC story quoted anonymous voices claiming they were Kalenjin and Kikuyu men, saying they were looking for guns because arrows used in the 2007 violence were a child play.

"Right now we have AK47 rifles for sale but there are times when we also sell G3s (rifles)," an arms dealer reportedly said in the report.

"Before, we were using bows and arrows to fight the enemy but changed to guns following the post-election experience," a Rift Valley residents was quoted saying in the BBC report.

But the Reverend Maritim Rirei, co-ordinator of the Anglican Church Peace and Reconciliation in North Rift and a former civic leader Kipkorir arap Menjo said the report was in bad taste.

The leaders urged the Government to investigate the source of the report.

"We are concerned about peace and such reports are not good for reconciliation and resettlement of displaced families. We should project towards peace and not create panic," said Rirei.

Menjo said the report was malicious and should be treated with contempt.

By Anderson Ojwang, Cyrus Ombati and Steve Makawale